During the recently ended VMworld conference (see virtualization.info live coverage), VMware announced a remarkable number of new products. One of them is the long awaited View 4.5.
The product, which has been postposed in the past, introduces the following features (besides the obvious support for vSphere 4.1):
- Integration with ThinApp 4.6 to deploy applications to VMware View desktop pools
- Integration with vShield Endpoint to provide optimized antivirus protection
- Support for Microsoft Windows 7 guest operating systems (32bit and 64bit)
- Role-based authentication and administration delegation
- Unified log system (with support for 3rd party tools reporting)
- New management interface (based on Adobe Flex)
- Inclusion of a Management Pack for Microsoft System Center Operation Manager (SCOM)
- Support for tiered-storage in View Composer (read-only gold master image, redo log snapshots and guest OS paging file can be stored onto separate storage LUNs)
- Support for Microsoft Sysprep-ed images in View Composer
- Support for autonomous Persistent Disks (they can be detached, migrated, reattached or archived)
- Support for FIPS 140-2
- Support for Microsoft PowerShell scripting
- Support for Apple Mac OS X in View Client as host operating system (no support for PCoIP protocol)
- Support for offline VDI, through a hosted virtualization platform on end-user workstation and laptops (Local mode)
Of course, one of the key new features is the so called Local Mode for the View Client. The VMware’s initial plan was to use a bare-metal hypervisor on clients, the Client Virtualization Platform (CVP), but the company experienced major delays in the project to the point that preferred to leverage the VMware Workstation engine instead.
Local mode allows the View administrators to define and apply security policies to the offline virtual desktops, which are encrypted with AES128 or AES256, to the point that they can act as kiosks (through MAC address-based authentication and fully unattended execution of the VM).
VMware pioneered this technology with a product called Assured Computing Environment (ACE), originally offered as a stand-alone solution and over time merged with Workstation. Despite that, the current version of Local Mode isn’t able to enforce a security policy as granular as the one that ACE understands. A VMware executive confirmed to virtualization.info that the plan is to offer the same capabilities that ACE offers today in the View Client in Local Mode.
The most significant feature anyway is probably the integration with ThinApp 4.6: the first VMware step to blend together its hardware virtualization and application virtualization platforms.
ThinApp applications can now be packaged and stored on a network file share. This network repository can be imported into View Manager. Once there, applications can be assigned to selected individual desktops or designated pools of desktops.
Administrators can choose to have them streamed via a shortcut on the guest OS desktop or to directly deploy the virtualized package inside the virtual desktop.
Another piece that View 4.5 doesn’t include is the user profile (which VMware calls persona) management technology acquired from RTO Software in March.
The VMware’s CTO for the Desktop Business Unit, Scott Davis, reports that the integration is not complete yet.
In conjunction with this product release, VMware also published a new paper titled VMware Reference Architecture Brief for Stateless Virtual Desktops with VMware View 4.5.
Interestingly, the 9-pages document details an architecture which leverages Solid State Drives (SSDs): the new support for tiered storage in View Composer allows users to save the gold master image on SSDs to greatly increase performance.
VMware claims that such solution would cost $252 per user.
VMware also claims that the new View 4.5 can scale up to 10,000 virtual machines per Pod.
One thing that is truly unclear is why VMware decided to call this version 4.5, out of sync with its flagship product vSphere, which is still at version 4.1.